The Chaldeans bring all of them up with a hook, drag them away with their net, and gather them together in their fishing net. Therefore, they rejoice and are glad. Habakkuk. 1:15 [NASB]
“God, where are you?” we ask at times. “Don’t you see me? Don’t you hear my cries for help? Why aren’t you saving me?” These were basically Habakkuk’s words in verse one. He knew he was God’s appointed prophet to the Judeans. God told Habakkuk to tell the people His judgment would come upon them for their wickedness and injustice (vs. 4).
First Habakkuk cried out for the people to God, then he spoke to the Judeans for God. With verses five through eleven, God continued to proclaim through Habakkuk. He explained His judgment of Judea would come through the dreaded and feared Chaldeans (Babylonians). The Chaldean nation was particularly barbaric in warfare. They defeated the Assyrian warriors who themselves had a reputation for ruthlessness and savagery in battle. Since the Chaldeans beat the Assyrians, they were more feared, and Habakkuk and the Judeans were afraid.
With verses twelve through seventeen, Habakkuk returned to speaking to God. He questioned how God could watch and seemingly approve of the evil He allowed upon the Judeans through the Chaldeans. He said, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?” (vs. 13) Was Habakkuk questioning God’s decision as Judge of Judea? Or, was he asking a rhetorical question in the midst of the prophecy to help the Judeans understand better why God would use the Chaldeans as His tool to enact His judgment? I would prefer it be the latter.
Rhetorical questions were, and still are, often used as a teaching tool. The knee-jerk answer would be what we wanted to be true. Yet, when pondering the question longer, we must agree the opposite answer is the truth. I would prefer Habakkuk be a man of God so strong in his faith that he would never deign to question God. Still, he was human, one who lived in Judea. He personally cared if his life and the lives of people he cared about would be destroyed. Habakkuk, being human like us, could easily have questioned God’s judgment. He, in essence, said in verse thirteen, “God, you are too good to see and approve evil. Why are you letting our enemies come and destroy us? You are supposed to be our God, our Protector. Where are you?” Was Habakkuk questioning the reality or God? Was he questioning the goodness and faithfulness of God? Was Habakkuk challenging God? Or was he using a teaching tool bringing the reality of the truth of the Judean’s sinfulness against God to the forefront of their minds? It could be all of them. I trust, as a man of God who was either a professional prophet or as a priest in the temple, Habakkuk asked a rhetorical question.
With this question, Habakkuk precisely pointed out for the Judeans God does not approve evil. He is too pure for that. God does not look upon wickedness with favor. Yet, He was silent as to the Chaldeans overtaking the Judeans because He used them to exact His equitable judgment against them for their repeated wickedness and injustice, their turning away from Him.
God through Habakkuk ensured the Judeans understood they continually sinned even after He repeatedly sent prophets to call them to return to Him. Because of their stubborn and willful hearts, God’s judgment would be enacted against them to correct them. He said in verse twelve, “Are You not from everlasting, O LORD, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O LORD, have appointed them to judge (be the judgment); And You, O Rock, have established them (the Chaldeans) to correct.” The Chaldeans had not gained favor in God’s sight. He had allowed them unhindered access to His children to punish and correct them. Without God’s permission, the Chaldeans would have failed against the Judeans in 586 BC. With this judgment enacted, the Judeans remembered the God who called them His, made them a nation, and provided all things.
Sometimes life gets very hard and we wonder where God is. Isn’t He big enough and strong enough to take care of this, we ask? Other times when bad things happen, we know why. It’s obvious we made a bad decision. Why is it humans most often want to cast blame on another when difficult times arrive? Why do we want to blame God or consider Him small and insignificant? At those times, we think of Him like the Judeans. We think of God as not caring and not as strong as we thought when actually the difficult times come because He cares for us and is strong. Sometimes He allows bad things to grow us, to refine us. Other times God allows problems to arise against us as judgment and correction. We shouldn’t question God’s judgment and heart; He is faithful.
We are the unfaithful ones.
How long will it take for you to recognize rightly why difficult times are happening? How long will you blame God for them? Will it take you being utterly broken before you recognize God? Let’s not wait until it’s too late, and we are dragged away as a sacrifice to our troubles.
We can choose to learn from our difficulties or we can be bitter.
What we choose shows our faith and faithfulness to God.
O, Lord, help us to see You in all our circumstances, to see Your love and care in all our situations. Help us to learn to trust Your heart and to grow as Your children in relationship with You.